Augmenting intelligence in influencer marketing

How Influential uses Watson to help match brands to social influencers

Influencer marketing is arguably the most sought after form of marketing that exists today. If you’re a brand marketer who is looking to quickly spread a message about your brand and start a viral conversation, there is no better way to do it than through influencer marketing. Though this form of social marketing is relatively new, the way that it’s been done, until recently, has been highly inefficient. AI, or cognitive computing, has a crucial role to play here.

From Talent Model to AI

When influencer marketing burst onto the scene a few years back, it caught the attention of talent agencies, as well as upstart influencer agencies, that looked to wrangle up the most impressive stable of influencer talent that they could. These agencies would then broker deals with the influencers to brands and companies that were eager to get in on the initial influencer boom. Like an influencer gold rush, agencies were mining talent and getting them onboard as quickly as they could, so that they could foreseeably own the influencer space. The problem with this, however, is that the talent model did not provide brands and companies with the most relevant talent. Instead, they would only be offered the influencers of the agency they were speaking with, simply because these were the influencers that the agency represented, rather than finding the best talent, using data or analytics.

An influencer named Ryan Detert recognized these shortcomings of the agency talent model and set out to build a solution that could address these issues. He and a partner, Dan Steele, worked with a team of developers to create Influential, an influencer technology platform, focused in data and analytics. The idea of a data and technology-first platform resonated with brands and agencies and Influential quickly grew to a team of over 90 employees, with offices in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, and NYC, and a network of over 10,000 of the most highly engaged influencers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube.

The most critical part of Influential’s growth occurred when they teamed up with IBM Watson, as a Developer Partner in 2015, and co-built a technology that utilized Augmented Intelligence to identify the most relevant influencer for a social campaign.

Why AI?

Influential’s platform identifies the best influencer for any campaign by using a 3-pronged approach of demographics, contextual relevance, and psychographics. Using demographics, Influential is able to identify factors like age, gender, geographic location, race, and affinities to zero in on the ideal influencer. From there, Influential relies upon contextual relevance to see if an influencer speaks about the brand or company on their social feeds, or if their interests align with the brand or company’s ideals and content.

Lastly, and most importantly, through its Developer Partnership with IBM Watson, Influential uses psychographics and augmented intelligence to match influencers with brands or companies through personality traits and archetypes. Through the use of IBM Watson’s Personality Insights API and Natural Language Processing (NLP), Influential is able to take the last 22,000 words that any influencer has spoken on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and use this text to identify, on a scale of 0–100, how highly they index in terms of the Big 5 Personality traits.

The Big Five is a century-plus old psychological theory taught in universities around the world and through the Big Five, there is a set of 52 specific characteristics that comprise a human’s personality traits. These traits include adventurousness, extraversion, hedonism, altruism, curiosity, and gregariousness. When Influential runs the social handle of an influencer, they also simultaneously run the handle of the brand or company that is looking to utilize the influencer for a campaign, to make sure that the influencer is a psychographic match to the brand. This first-of-its-kind vetting process yields the most comprehensive influencer identification tool on the market, to date.

Influential is currently working to integrate more of IBM Watson’s APIs into its platform. Most recently, Influential has added Alchemy and Tone Analyzer to its list of APIs that it uses, with plans for more, later in the year.